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Bessie Smith And St. Louie Blues

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St. Louis Blues

Bessie Smith and St. Louis Blues are two legends in the blues world, separately as well as together. When placed together one could not find a better example of classical blues from the 1920's.

St. Louis Blues is one of the most popular blues songs ever written. William Christopher Hardy wrote this song over 80 years ago. While on a trip to St. Louis, Hardy met a tormented black woman. She spoke to him in her deep southern broken English about the loss of her husband to another woman and thus inspiring Hardy to write one of the most influential blues songs ever. St. Louis Blues is of the blues genre, as the title would indicate. The tune brings in Cuban and African rhythm that leads this sorry tale along. The form of the song is abnormal because the verses are normal twelve bar blues in time with three lines of lyrics, the first two lines repeated, but it also has a sixteen bar bridge. St. Louis Blues was later made into a short film that starred none other than Bessie Smith. The short is still available today and is a rare opportunity to witness the amazing talent of Bessie Smith. The song remains part of most blues musician's repertoires today.

Though many talented artists have sung St. Louis Blues, no one can top Bessie Smith. As a tormented southern black woman herself, the song seems to be written specially for Bessie Smith. Her deep, slow, and soothing sound illuminate Hardy's words. The song is brought to life through her enigmatic voice and lets one hear the pain this woman is feeling.

Bessie Smith played an important role in the advancement and development of the blues. Female blues singers in the 1920s including Bessie Smith and one of her mentors, Gertrude "Ma" Rainey, seemed to have created the genre. They also became models of how African-American women could become economically independent in a culture that



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